Late for Jarvis Jenkins’ party last year, Daniel High football coach Randy Robinson said he won’t make the same mistake with DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins during this year’s NFL Draft. Robinson was lining the field for Daniel’s spring game when Jenkins, one of his former players, was plucked by the Washington Redskins early the second night of the 2012 draft.
A teammate of Hopkins’ at Daniel and Clemson, Jenkins was not projected to come off the board until later in the second round or early the third, but Washington drafted him 41st.
Robinson foresees a similar scenario because there’s no consensus on Hopkins.
NFL.com shows him with the third best grade among eligible receivers behind Tavon Austin of West Virginia and Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee. Those two, as well as Keenan Allen of California, Robert Woods of Southern Cal and Justin Hunter of Tennessee, are projected ahead of him in the four mock drafts on the site.
After being listed as a consensus first-rounder for several weeks, Hopkins has been dropped as low as the third round, which would be a disappointment after choosing to leave Clemson with a year of eligibility remaining. Influential in his decision was the evaluation by the league’s draft advisory committee, which projected him as a late first round or early second round pick.
Not in play at the time was a report that Hopkins’ hotel room was trashed during the NFL Combine, but he immediately denied culpability in a Tweet, saying that the room was fine when he left.
Nevertheless, he had been dropped from the first round in several highly visible mock drafts, including those by Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. on ESPN.com. However, two mock drafts by NFLdraftscout.com on CBS Sports placed him 27th with the Houston Texans.
So, what’s not to like about a player who caught 82 passes for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior?
The most consistent rap seems to be Hopkins isn’t of requisite size and speed. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds, he is considered short and lean for an outside receiver, and most reports suggest he occasionally loses focus, leading to a drop.
Those who watched him for three seasons see a receiver who plays taller because of his penchant for attacking throws, physically because of his experience in high school on defense and intelligently.
Scouts, Inc. compared him to Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons.
“Hopkins does a nice job setting up his routes to keep defenders off balance and attack the ball at its highest point — if the ball is thrown in Hopkins’ area, he goes and gets it. He has fluid body control and the focus to be a reliable starting (receiver) option in the NFL.”
McShay’s mock first round published last week by the ESPN magazine placed him with the Texans, which was where he began. Now some drafts have him going to Carolina in the second round.
Regardless, Hopkins said he felt there was nothing more to prove at Clemson, and the timing wouldn’t be better by waiting a year.
“It was kind of my time,” he said. “I’ve done all I could here.”
Hopkins said he’ll remain patient, monitoring the draft from home with his family, friends, teammates and coach Robinson
“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t always the five-star person that everyone always had on the roster to do this and that,” he said. “It’s a personal challenge. I know people say I’m going third, second round. Everybody has opinions.
“I play football. I don’t really care — cold, hot — it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I was taught to do my job.”
Some of the mock drafts that have Clemson WR DeAndre Hopkins as a first-round choice:
Charley Casserly, NFL Network: Bengals (21)
Josh Norris, NFL Network: Rams (22)
Matt Miller, Bleacher Report: Vikings (25)
Pat Kirnan, CBS Sports: Texans (27)
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Patriots (29)